Tuesday April 24, 2018

People living in areas with Polluted Air Likely to develop High levels of Hypertension: Study

It is believed that air pollution leads to health problems by causing lung inflammation that spreads throughout the body, eventually leading to blood vessel and heart damage

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Air Pollution
A migrant worker steps out of his living quarters in an area next to a coal power plant in Beijing. VOA
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  • A recent study looked at hypertension in 41,000 people in five different countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain – for five to eight years
  • beginning in 2008, none of the participants reported having high blood pressure but by 2011, 6200 people reported having developed hypertension and started taking blood-pressure lowering drugs
  • The researchers found that for every five micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter, hypertension increased by one-fifth or 22 percent in people living in the most polluted areas

People who live in areas with polluted air increase their risk for developing hypertension, a leading risk factor for the development of heart disease. Known as high blood pressure, the hypertension study is the largest of its kind to establish the deadly link.

A recent study looked at hypertension in 41,000 people in five different countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain – for five to eight years.

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It is part of the long-term “Europe Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects,” known as ESCAPE, which focuses on health problems associated with pollution.

At the hypertension study, beginning in 2008, none of the participants reported having high blood pressure or taking medicine to control it. By 2011, 6,200 people reported having developed hypertension and started taking blood-pressure lowering drugs.

Most lived in urban areas where air pollution is highest.

Air pollution is measured in micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter. The researchers found that for every five micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter, hypertension increased by one-fifth or 22 percent in people living in the most polluted areas.

Epidemiologist Barbara Hoffmann, who works for the Center for Health and Society at Heinrich-Heine University in Germany and led the study, says many of these cases of high blood pressure could be prevented.

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“So this is a very important result if you can see that something that you can actually change. I mean we can actually reduce air pollution, can have such an influence on such an important health outcome,” said Hoffman.

The findings were published in the European Heart Journal.

Hoffmann says researchers will now study areas of where pollution is low, looking at the health effects of cleaner air.

“But this is of course important in terms of regulation because you would like to regulate the air pollution down to a level where you do not see any (health) effects anymore. So, therefore it is really important to look at areas of low exposure and see how far down can you go until you do not see any effects anymore,” said Hoffman.

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It is believed that air pollution leads to health problems by causing lung inflammation that spreads throughout the body, eventually leading to blood vessel and heart damage. (VOA)

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Youth in polluted cities at increased risk of Alzheimer’s

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Climate Trends works on solutions to air pollution, while Co Media Lab is a community media lab.
Pollution can lead to Alzheimer's in youth. Wikimedia Commons

Children and young adults living in polluted megacities are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a debilitating brain disease characterised by memory loss, a new study has warned.

“Alzheimer’s disease hallmarks start in childhood in polluted environments, and we must implement effective preventative measures early,” said one of the researchers Lilian Calderon-Garciduenas from University of Montana in the US.

Air pollution can trigger Alzheimer’s. Flickr

“It is useless to take reactive actions decades later,” Calderon-Garciduenas said. The findings, published in the Journal of Environmental Research, indicate that Alzheimer’s starts in early childhood, and the disease progression relates to age, pollution exposure and status of Apolipoprotein E (APOE 4), a well-known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s. The researchers studied 203 autopsies of Mexico City residents in the US ranging in age from 11 months to 40 years.

Metropolitan Mexico City is home to 24 million people exposed daily to concentrations of fine particulate matter and ozone above US Environmental Protection Agency standards. The researchers tracked two abnormal proteins that indicate development of Alzheimer’s, and they detected the early stages of the disease in babies less than a year old.

Also Read: Your daily cup of coffee can worsen Alzheimer’s symptoms

The scientists found heightened levels of the two abnormal proteins — hyperphosphorylated tau and beta amyloid — in the brains of young urbanites with lifetime exposures to fine-particulate-matter pollution (PM2.5).

They also tracked APOE 4 as well as lifetime cumulative exposure to unhealthy levels of PM2.5 — particles which are at least 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and frequently cause the haze over urban areas. The researchers found hallmarks of the disease among 99.5 percent of the autopsies they examined in Mexico City. In addition, the findings showed that APOE 4 carriers had a higher risk of rapid progression of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s can cause depression too. Pixabay

The researchers believe the detrimental effects are caused by tiny pollution particles that enter the brain through the nose, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, and these particles damage all barriers and travel everywhere in the body through the circulatory system.

The authors noted that ambient air pollution is a key modifiable risk for millions of people across the globe. “Neuroprotection measures ought to start very early, including the prenatal period and childhood,” Calderon-Garciduenas said. “Defining pediatric environmental, nutritional, metabolic and genetic risk-factor interactions are key to preventing Alzheimer’s disease,” she added. IANS